Aurora, Co., authorities alerted U.S. immigration officials in April that Francis Hernandez might be an illegal immigrant, but he remained free, despite 16 prior brushes with the law. Last week, Hernandez, 23, allegedly broadsided a truck, killing three people, including a toddler, reports the Rocky Mountain News. The case has many in the community demanding answers: Why wasn’t Hernandez – who immigration officials believe is a Guatemalan national here illegally – deported long ago? Why, after 16 arrests, wasn’t he behind bars?
The incident also reignited a debate about U.S. immigration policies. Gov. Bill Ritter said he was outraged that an illegal immigrant with a lengthy rap sheet had remained free “to kill three innocent people.” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said they have no record of Aurora contacting them April 25, when Hernandez was arrested for speeding and driving without a valid license. An Aurora official said the city made more than 2,500 referrals to ICE last year, but ICE responded only “a fraction of the time,” Friel said.